The political controversies surrounding Muslim veiling today involve specific rhetorical elements deriving from long histories of colonialism, post-colonialism, and neocolonialism and Muslim responses to these. A number of different languages – political, religious, patriarchal, feminist, sectarian, aesthetic – often get mixed up when Muslim veiling is talked about by diverse types of people, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Sartorial fashion is also spoken about in multiple registers: in terms of aesthetics, commercial considerations, social distinction and stratification, art, design, and creativity. Both veiling and fashion have nonverbal languages, too. This chapter looks into the relationships between languages of veiling and languages of fashion. What happens when veiling becomes fashionable? What happens when fashionable forms of veiling appear, and an Islamic fashion industry emerges? There are three relevant types of language used here: those within Muslim communities, those outside Muslim communities, and those operating between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. These are shaped by power struggles of many sorts. As Foucault recognized, languages shape, hide, and (re)produce power relations, such as in Orientalist forms of representation (Said) and in localized forms of silencing subaltern groups like lower-class women (Spivak). Such struggles become more complex when fashion languages and veiling languages meet. Fashionable veiling, or veiling fashion, can be a powerful tool for a Muslim woman, but it can also be rejected as (supposedly) oppressive or demeaning. These contradictory and intertwined elements of veiling languages and fashion languages are subjected here to cultural-historical sociological analysis.
- Muslim women
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Almila, AM. (2019). Islamic Veiling Meets Fashion: Struggles and Translations. In: Brunn, S., Kehrein, R. (eds) Handbook of the Changing World Language Map. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73400-2_171-1
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